If you have been taking Zantac (ranitidine), an over-the-counter acid reducer and heartburn medication, you may have heard that the drug is being pulled off many retailers’ shelves. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently expressed concern that some forms of the medication — both name brand and the generic form, ranitidine — may contain a potentially cancer-causing ingredient, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
This ingredient, classified as a probable human carcinogen, was previously connected to recalls of some prescription blood pressure and heart failure medications. Zantac and ranitidine contain low levels of NDMA. Although levels may be barely more than what is found in water and some foods, more investigation is needed to determine if the amount of NDMA in ranitidine poses a risk to people taking the medication. While this is being done, drug manufacturers have voluntarily recalled medications and major chains like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart have stopped selling them.
So what do you do now if you’ve been taking Zantac or a similar medication for your heartburn or acid reflux?
Talk to your doctor about alternative medications. In the meantime, try these natural heartburn remedies. They may help relieve symptoms without medication:
- Avoid foods that make symptoms flare up. Many people know what causes their heartburn symptoms. If you do, avoiding triggers is one way to lower your need for medication. If you don’t, keep a journal of what you eat and drink and resulting symptoms to help identify the culprits. Common triggers include spicy, fatty and acidic foods as well as coffee, carbonated beverages and alcohol.
- Don’t overeat. You’re less likely to experience heartburn when you don’t eat too much at once. Try eating smaller meals. This will allow your body to better digest the food you eat and not send stomach acid rising into your esophagus. Chewing gum after meals may also help stimulate saliva production and dilute stomach acid in your esophagus.
- Keep pressure off your stomach. Don’t lie down after eating and remain as upright as possible. This puts less pressure on your stomach which can help decrease the amount of acid that rises into your esophagus and causes your symptoms. Wearing looser clothing may also reduce pressure on your stomach.
Learn more on the FDA website's news section.